Blizzard Entertainment on Tuesday announced that closed beta testing for its highly-anticipated Diablo III action RPG has begun, as the title enters the "final stages of development."
Not only will the closed beta plant the seed for future marketing buzz among the series' most loyal fan base, but it will also give Blizzard important player feedback on the game's development, including stability and hardware input.
The English-only closed beta will allow players to play through Act I of the game in single-player or cooperatively as any of the five hero classes, which include barbarian, witch doctor, wizard, monk and demon hunter. The Act leads to an encounter with the Skeleton King.
"This closed beta test is an important milestone for us as we enter the final stages of development on Diablo III," said Blizzard CEO and cofounder Mike Morhaime in a statement.
"Our goal is to create the best action role-playing game experience to date, building on everything we've learned since the release of Diablo II and incorporating the powerful features of the new Battle.net platform. We hope players enjoy participating in the beta test and we look forward to hearing their feedback."
When the game launches at a later, unannounced date, it will easily be the most online-focused Diablo title yet, with matchmaking and communication tools and the previously-announced Diablo III auction house, driven by a player-economy built on virtual and real currency.
Blizzard said it will reveal more region-specific release details "at a later date."